Switch off – pull the plug – plug back in – reboot. Some might wish for this when they follow the news on current political, social, ecological, economic, and not least epidemiological developments: the communities of states do not succeed in living peacefully with each other and providing for a dignified life for all. Violence and racism are fuelled by populists. Individuals do not want to give up their prosperity, their rights – even if it is at the expense of others or the environment. The economy keeps cranking up consumption so that the individual feels prosperous: keep up the good work and keep the system running!
But the world is not an operating system that can simply be shut down to remove all malware and reset the systems. The main problem is the virus ‘humankind’ in connection with the systems it has developed itself. It is its own problem. And it is a prisoner of its self-created systems, which threaten to pull it further and further into the abyss, to destruction or at least to dematerialization, dehumanization, drifting into virtual worlds – into a metaverse.
Not all is lost, however. A few have started to engage in a race. A race for survival. Some to stop the destruction of the host, others to ensure their survival in the destruction. Technology is at the center of this. Energy generation, digitalization, robotics, artificial intelligence. But technology is (still) human-made and thus prone to error. And it creates new systems that subordinate humans. Where the software – the human – remains is hard to say.
With System Down? State of Affairs, Klemm’s invited curator Olaf Stüber to select works by contemporary artists who explore overarching questions about norms, control, security, and the definition of individual freedom, but today also more personal questions about vulnerability, community, and the continuity of the ‘human’ from different aspects and present them in an implied, scenic image:
In an obviously abandoned office space – a start-up company perhaps that has lost its financiers, another bank branch that has fallen victim to the controllers, or a government agency whose employees have fled to the home office – the selected works are shown on desk screens. Upon entering the room, everything is silent, all systems seem to be shut down. Only the clacking of a slide projector can be heard like a timing metronome. The screens are frozen. Only with a click of the mouse are the works activated and begin to run. The visitors are free to decide where they want to sit, which work they want to engage with, and whether they want to watch it from beginning to end. They have the chance to do so and can influence the overall picture of the exhibition with their decisions.
With the support of Neustart Kultur and Stiftung Kunstfonds.